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Cost Overruns Likely To Delay MBTA's Green Line Extension Project

A Green Line trolley pulls into the Lechmere Station in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A Green Line trolley pulls into the Lechmere Station in Cambridge. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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State officials acknowledged Wednesday that the long-promised Green Line extension to Somerville and Medford is likely to be delayed yet again as they search for ways to cut costs.

The future of the project was thrown into question when it was revealed in August that it could end up as much as $1 billion over budget.

During a meeting of the Department of Transportation's board on Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said while some parts of the project continue to move forward, others have been halted and are unlikely to start back up again before spring 2016.

"We've had to balance the fact that we need to move forward for a variety of reasons with the fact that we obviously do not want to put additional Commonwealth resources at risk until we have a clear path forward on the project," Pollack said.

The state has hired four outside firms to evaluate how the project got so far along without a full understanding of what it would cost, and to find ways to reduce costs and possibly increase revenues to fund the project. The firms are also looking at what risks the state faces, based on earlier project agreements, if they were to change contracts or alter the scope of the project.

A spokesman for the T said the cost of the analysis being done by the four firms "will not exceed $1.5 million."

Pollack expects to present recommendations on how the project should move forward to both the MassDOT board and the MBTA's control board at a Dec. 9 meeting.

“We have not set a particular target for the costs nor do we have a new construction schedule," Pollack said. "The goal is to bring the costs down as far as we can and identify as much new additional revenue potential ... and then come back to the boards and talk to the governor and the broader public about what it would take [to finish the project].”

The latest project timeline, created before the budget issues were revealed, had some stations scheduled to open by the end of 2017.

The state is required to complete the project — originally slated to be finished in 2011 -- as part of a lawsuit settlement to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Big Dig.

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Abby Elizabeth Conway Twitter Digital Producer/Editor
Abby Elizabeth Conway was formerly a digital producer and editor at WBUR.

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